Telephones & power failure: Info | ACMA

Telephones & power failure: Info

Do phones need to be connected to the power supply?

Many phones these days can have additional features such as hands-free communication, calling number display and recorded messages. Many phones with these features need to be connected to the household electricity supply (230 volts mains) as well as being connected to the telephone network.

What happens if there is a power failure?

If your telephone needs power from the household electricity supply, you should be aware that if there is a power failure in your home your telephone may not work. This could be potentially very dangerous-you may not be able to call family and friends if you need assistance and you may not be able to call for emergency services in a life-threatening or time-critical situation.

What do I need to consider before buying a phone?

Before you buy a telephone that requires power from the household electricity supply (such as a cordless phone), you should always ask:

In the event of a power failure, will this telephone still work?

If the answer is yes, you should find out whether there's a backup battery and, if so, how long it will last for both stand-by and talk time. You should also find out if it automatically takes over if there is a power failure, and whether (or how often) it needs to be replaced.

If you have a telephone that won't work if there's a power failure, then you need to consider whether this is the only telephone that will be available to you. You may need to have another telephone in your home that only requires connection to the telephone network.

How do I know whether my phone will work during a power failure?

To check whether your phone that is powered from the household electricity supply will work if there's a power failure you should:

  • Read the instructions for the telephone to see if there's a warning label stating that this type of telephone will not work if there's a power failure. If you can't find the instructions, call the manufacturer.
  • Test your telephone. Unplug it from the household electricity supply and make a call (make sure the phone is still connected to the telephone socket). It's also a good idea to arrange for someone to call you back to ensure that you can receive calls with the phone disconnected from the power supply. If you can make and receive calls with the phone unplugged from the household electricity supply, your phone should work if there's a power failure in your home. If you can't make or receive calls, it is unlikely that your phone would work in the event of a power failure.

Are there regulatory requirements for telephones that won't function during a power failure?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) sets technical standards for customers' telecommunications equipment. The ACMA recommends that telephones be able to support access to emergency numbers (such as 000) for at least 30 minutes during a power failure. For telephones that don't function during a power failure, the technical standard suggests that a warning notice be included in the instructions, advising users that the phone won't operate if there is a power failure.

More information

For more information see under Telecommunications Standards and Compliance Regulatory Arrangements on the ACMA website or contact the ACMA's Technical Regulation Development Section.

Please note: this document is intended as a guide only and should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.

Last updated: 20 July 2017